You can target the air conditioning toward your body, your feet or both. You can crank it up from cool to super cold. But if you’re not using your car’s “air recirculation” button, you’re not getting the coolest driving experience possible.
We’ve all seen the button — it looks like a vehicle with a swooping arrow in the center — and we’ve probably hit it from time to time. But there are very specific times when the button is helpful, and certain times when it’s not.
Use it when you get in a hot car
When you first get into a sweltering car and start to crank the AC, hit the air recirculation button, too. This will recirculate the now slightly cooler air from the car and cool it down even further, rather than pulling in more hot air from outside. The process cools your car down quicker than using the regular fresh air mode.
Once the air reaches a reasonably cool temperature, though, you can turn off the recirculation button to avoid the air becoming too stale within the vehicle. If you encounter a particularly dusty area or get behind a bus spewing out exhaust, you might avoid some of the smell permeating your car by temporarily switching the air recirculation back on until you’re past it.
Don’t use it in the winter
Recirculation traps moisture inside the vehicle; in the winter, which means foggy windows. So a good rule of thumb is to not use the air recirculation button at all if you’re using your vehicle’s heater.
If you don’t have this button in your vehicle, don’t worry. Chances are you’re in a newer model car, which is equipped with sensors that monitor the moisture levels inside the vehicle. It’s doing all the work for you, switching between fresh and recirculated air, as needed.